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Colonial Loom


Continued from product description on Home Crafts' Page Four...

Historical Background: Early American colonists wove with flax and cotton even though weaving was against British law. Unfinished flax and cotton were supposed to be sent to England and the colonists were expected to buy the finished goods, such as fabric, from England. England would not allow their colonists to import sheep or to even have wool! Sheep were eventually brought to America from other countries allowing for the production of wool threads for weaving.

Before wool fibers could be woven, they had to be washed, carded to get the long fibers all lengthwise, and then spun into thread with drop spindles or spinning wheels. This spun thread or yarn could then be dyed with berries, tree bark, flowers, or herbs. Weaving fabric for clothing for the entire family was a demanding job. Children helped out with many of these chores even when they were very young. Weaving was considered a necessity rather than an art in Colonial America. Weaving prospered until about the latter half of the 18th century. The Industrial Revolution caused many young women to leave their homes and work in the factories. By 1828, power looms were being used in American and European factories and mills.

Before the American Civil War (1861-1865), weaving looms were still a common item in many households -- especially in the Appalachian Mountains. Some families were fortunate enough to have a special room or shed just for the weaving loom. Otherwise, a loom might be set up during the cold winter months, when women had more time to weave, and disassembled and stored during the summer months. Weavers used cotton, flax, and wool to weave fabric for clothing. As manufactured cloth became more available in this area, weavers used their looms to make decorative items for the home, such as coverlets. Weaving became a lost art by the 1890s due to the vast availability of manufactured cloth. It has become prevalent again, and there are many weaving guilds today restoring the popularity of this ancient craft.

The development of the frame loom meant that a weaver could have a portable tool that could be taken almost anywhere. Frame looms are a wonderful piece of inexpensive equipment that can be used to teach weaving to children. A floor loom is not always available for demonstrations, but with the availability of the small frame looms, children can have their own and some fun recreating this ancient craft.

For more information on weaving, go to the historical background for our My First Weaving Loom (4302).

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Colonial Loom
Colonial Loom
Item Number 4301

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